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Super Eagle's Victor Ikpeba
"I am very disappointed ... there should be fairness"
 real 28k

banner Monday, 14 February, 2000, 12:17 GMT
Nigerian media bitter in defeat

Victory denied after Victor Ikpeba's disallowed penalty


Nigeria is in a state of shock and grief at the Super Eagles' loss in the final of African Nations Cup against Cameroon on Sunday, with widespread criticism in the media of the conduct of the game's Tunisian referee.

"Nigeria appears to have been prevented from lifting the African Nations Cup by the CAF-appointed officials," said the main news bulletin on state-run television.

Television reports have broadcast over and over again pictures of a disallowed penalty taken by the Eagles' Victor Ikpeba which clearly crossed the line after riccocheting off the cross-bar.

Nigeria were favourites to win in front of a home crowd.
The miss was a key cause of Nigeria's defeat in a tense penalty shoot-out after the game ended at two-all.

"Tunisian referee robs Eagles" is the uncompromising view of the Nigerian Tribune.

The Guardian is also highly critical of referee Mourad Daami but prefers to lead on the devastating effect of Nigeria's loss after entering the game as favourites with home advantage.

"A deafening silence enveloped the National Stadium, Surulere last night as Cameroon defeated Nigeria to win, for ever, the African Unity Cup," the paper says.

Three times unlucky

Adding salt to Nigeria's wounds, Cameroon get to keep the trophy after winning the cup three times, all against Nigeria.

"Cameroon has had to beat Nigeria in all its three victories in the Nations Cup", the Guardian says. "Last night's third triumph has given the Indomitable Lions the eternal possession of the trophy that was first offered in the Lagos final 20 years ago."

Tears and disbelief were on display in the Nigerian camp and the team failed to attend the traditional post-match press conference.

Third final versus Cameroon and Nigeria's third defeat
This has allowed reports to concentrate on Ikpeba's kick which, according to the Guardian, "will continue to generate controversy for years to come".

"Daami's poor officiating (was brought) into focus, almost in the same manner Mauritanian referee Idrissa Sarr's poor judgment aided Cameroon's win in 1988," the paper says.

"The Tunisian referee indeed played a crucial role in the Cameroonian victory, allowing many fouls by the physically asserting Indomitable Lions to go unpunished."

Radio and television talk-shows have been dominated by the match and AFP reports the public showing a mixture of praise for both teams and criticism of Daami.

Emotional scenes

"Both teams played well. It was the referee that was bad. They should have made it a draw. Have two champions," was the view of a caller to a popular morning TV programme.

The Vanguard newspaper leads with the headline "Controversial penalty costs Nigeria Unity Cup."

The paper describes a highly emotional scene in which skipper Sunday Oliseh wept uncontrollably as he reluctantly collected the second-place trophy.

Skipper Sunday Oliseh could hardly believe the loss
"The streets of Lagos that were virtually empty during the tension soaked encounter and remained near empty at nightfall as disappointed fans remained indoors to mourn yet another Nations Cup final loss to neighbouring Cameroon," Vanguard says.

But there was no mention of the scuffles which broke out in and around the stadium, and papers say fears of rioting were greatly exagerated despite Nigeria's loss at home after a controversialy refereeing decision.

To dispell some of the gloom, however, the Guardian points out the "gallant play" of the Lions and the "grace" of the Eagles.

"A more unruly team would have protested the refree's decision to disallow Ikpeba's goal from the penalty kick and rocked the boat of the entire tournament."

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See also:
14 Feb 00 |  Cup of Nations
Nigeria v Cameroon: Picture gallery
13 Feb 00 |  Cup News
Cameroon are Kings of Africa
12 Feb 00 |  Cup News
South Africa edge out Tunisia
11 Feb 00 |  Cup News
Semi-final success unites Nigeria
12 Feb 00 |  Cup News
Cameroon: Player penpix
12 Feb 00 |  Cup News
Nigeria: Player penpix
10 Feb 00 |  Cup News
Eagles fly into final
10 Feb 00 |  Cup News
Mboma fires Lions through
08 Feb 00 |  Cup News
Nigeria fine halved for pitch invasion
Links to other Cup News stories are at the foot of the page.